A perfect storm: food, water and energy security

Tuesday 12th November 2013 @ 19:00

Non-Member: £12.00 ; Staff: £5.00 ; Student: £3.00

Sir John Beddington, Professor of Applied Population Biology, former UK Government Chief Scientific Adviser

A "perfect storm" of food shortages, scarce water and insufficient energy resources threaten to unleash public unrest, cross-border conflicts and mass migration as people flee from the worst-affected regions, the UK Government’s Chief Scientific Adviser warned before stepping down in March this year.

"We head into a perfect storm in 2030, because all of these things are operating on the same time frame ".

View the slide presentation from the lecture here, the audio recording of the talk here and the Q & A's here.


Sir John Beddington CMG FRS served as Chief Scientific Adviser for five years and reported directly to the Prime Minister. Sir John provided advice during emergencies such as the swine flu outbreak, the 2010 volcanic ash incident and the earthquake and tsunami affecting the nuclear plant at Fukushima. He was responsible for raising the profile of food, energy and water security in the context of climate change, popularising the concept of the ‘perfect storm’.

Sir John commented “The last few years as Chief Scientific Adviser have driven home to me the importance and complexity of the challenges we face over the next few decades".

Between January 2008 and the end of March 2013, Sir John was the Government Chief Scientific Adviser and Head of the Government Office for Science. He reported directly to the Prime Minister and attended Cabinet Sub-committees and, on occasion, Cabinet. He had access to and numerous interactions with various Secretaries of State and his formal reporting line was to the Cabinet Secretary. He was Head of Profession for Science and Engineering in Government and founded the Government Science and Engineering Network. He headed the group of Chief Scientific Advisers in Government.

He chaired the National Security Council Science Advisory Group and the Science Advisory Group in Emergencies reporting into the COBR Committee. His experience was in three rather different emergencies: the pandemic influenza outbreak in 2009, the volcanic ash closure of UK air space in 2010 and problems linked to the earthquake and tsunami affecting the nuclear plants in Fukushima in Japan in 2011.
He directed the Foresight team which had the responsibility to look forward and assess implications for major challenges in the future, ranging from 10 to 40 years.

"There are dramatic problems out there, particularly with water and food, but energy also, and they are all intimately connected," Beddington said. "You can't think about dealing with one without considering the others. We must deal with all of these together."



Optionally followed by supper (this can be booked on the event booking form).
After the lecture a Friends' Table has been reserved at a local restaurant to entertain the speaker and for any of the audience who would like to join us to continue the evening's discussion. A two-course fixed price supper is served including wine, coffee and service charge.
Or if you have already booked for the event and now want to join us for supper Book Supper now

Venue: SAF Building, Imperial College London

Campus Map reference 33
on the Imperial College London Map